Thursday, October 3, 2013

Goodbye to all that*

June 2006

In some ways, leaving the terrace is about making decisions I have put off for years.

Like the New Dawn.

This rose is - as anyone knows who has grown it - a long distance endurance climber. It does not hold back. And after almost seven years it had wrapped its thorny, once-blooming arms all around one side of the terrace and over the door. Its lovely and delicate flowers appeared for two weeks, less in heat, and were gone.

                                                              May 2007, the rose party

But for some years it had not been well. Hanging in there, but desperate for more room.  It made a good support for the clematis that I grew up through its canes, and for the Gloriosa lily that wound its little leaf hooks around the bare lower parts of the rose, and for the very, very tall lilies in the neighbouring pot, which I tethered to the New Dawn to keep them out of my way as I moved back and forth.

                                                                                May 2008

But some relationships have to end. A tipping point is reached and over you go (thank you, Malcolm Gladwell - imagine if he got royalties every time someone said that. He must hear it and wince and think - ka-ching!).

Today I cut the New Dawn back, and then down, and then tipped its massive rootball out of the large pot, and bagged it. The Frenchman had to carry it downstairs. It was too heavy for me to lift. I was not as sad as I thought I would be. But looking at these pictures does make me sad.

May 2009

The terrace is a-kilter. Almost two thirds of the gravel have been removed, the filter fabric lifted to expose the deck beneath, the shady corner is no more. It will be left blank.

May 2010

I am doing this as much for myself as for the notoriously litigious landlord. I want to leave nothing. Not out of spite, but out of neatness, because I like to end things cleanly.

May 2011

The terrace in its glory was a story. It is a story. 

May 2012

                                                                     It will always exist. 

* Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves, 1929


  1. A lovely story. And the next one will be even more glorious.

  2. Wistful and wishful all in one. Change is good! All the best to you.

  3. Now I have a lump in my throat - but you are right - it will always be there in your blog archives and your pictures and your heart. You made a drab terrace into a place of beauty - no one could ask for more.

  4. It is right here in my bag today. I brought it into work to show it off.

    We will never forget.

    xo J.

  5. Clearing out, putting things back the way you found them is all part of saying good-bye.
    But moving on is hard.

  6. It is there in your book, too -- which I am enjoying immensely, by the way. I tie all of your New York pilgrimages back to that terrace.

  7. It might be interesting to see how you feel when the garden and farm have been totally removed and you see concretely how much your creativity and skill made a maybe poor space into quite magical.

  8. We carry our homes with us like snails. Wherever you go you will be there. Change is rejuvenating like being re-potted. Enough garden metaphors love and good wishes.

  9. May the anxiousness of closing one door be replaced quickly with the energy and excitement of starting down your new path. V.

  10. Even if you are doing it because it pleases you to leave cleanly, it's still the right thing to do and only makes your stupid soon-to-be-ex landlord look even more petty. Isn't it nice when you get the result that's naughty along with the result that's good.

    Our hearts (and archives) will always hold dear that special 66 square feet which you shared so fully with us. xo

  11. You are poetry in motion.
    Thank you for sharing yourself and your life.
    Barbara C. from Decatur, GA.

  12. What a beautiful and wise reflection. Thank you for all you've shared, for all the inspiration. A bit of your terrace will always be in my small deck of my condo kitchen in Florida. Having moved here from Paris, your bloom where you're planted and plant if you want blooms messages have meant so much to me.

  13. Beautiful and moving tribute. We'll miss the terrace too, Marie.

  14. Though it is not in our nature as gardeners to be stingy with what we've grown, I do think it's altogether appropriate for you to remove everything so that your landlord can't capitalize on what you created there. It could have been a selling point to potential tenants. I like to imagine the new description for an advertisement: "Once-magical apartment, o'er brimming with beauty, now bereft of all loveliness and character."

    1. @Becky - Beautifully put. I was thinking the same thing! I feel bad for the new tennants though if they've seen the apartment in its previous glory only to move in and be tremendously disappointed.

    2. There is little way for them to know it's the same place, although the red is a bit distinctive!

  15. And the next chapter starts......

    I always love a new chapter, even when missing the old.....


  16. I cried after I read this, Marie. I have grown accustomed to seeing your beautiful 66 square foot garden each and every day for the last year, when I first discovered your blog. I feel sadness at saying goodbye to it myself, so I can only imagine what you must be experiencing. Thank you for sharing such beauty with all of us. I so look forward to seeing and hearing about your new home.

  17. Such a beautiful rose. Will you grow that one again? The red background really enhanced it, or is it the other way around? As Ling said above, we'll miss the terrace too, but we know you will create something just as lovely on the blank canvas you have waiting for you.

    Nancy Mc

  18. This was all so beautiful, only one solution exists: It will be recreated, somehow, somewhere, sometime. Different, of course, but the same. Or even better.

  19. Thank you Marie, for your reflections- I find, as one of your beloved readers and cooks, that I too, need
    to "mourn" and separate a little from your lovely terrace-

  20. I will miss your lovely little terrace, but you will always have the memories and pictures of the oasis you created.


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